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Access to Green Space in Los Angeles, USA


The city of Los Angeles has one of the lowest percentages of green space of any major U.S. urban center. Minority and low income communities are disproportionately impacted by this lack of green space which contributed to negative mental and physical health outcomes.

There is growing recognition of the importance of access to green spaces for physical and mental health and many local neighborhoods are making progress on new projects to increase green space access.

Attention in media to this issue is increasing. Many community groups are focused on advocating for local parks or programs.

Basic Data

NameAccess to Green Space in Los Angeles, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteLos Angeles
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesGreen Space

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsOnly 29% of L.A. residents live within a quarter mile of a park. Minority residents are disproportionally impacted by this problem with predominantly white neighborhoods having 31.8 acres of park space for every 1,000 people, while African American neighborhoods have only 1.7 acres and Latino neighborhoods 0.6 acres.

According to the 2012 census the population of L.A. is 9,962,789. Of that 9.3% are African America, 14.5% Asian, and 48.2% Hispanic or Latino. 16.3% live below the poverty line.
Project Area (in hectares)130,276 (city of LA)
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date1980
Relevant government actorsCity of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMountain Recreation and Conservation Authority, LA Conservation Corps, The City Project, People for Parks, Natural Resoure Defense Council, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. Treepeople

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
low income groups, minorities
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Development of AlternativesThe city continues to attempt new park initiatives although privatization of parks remains financial one of the most popular options.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There is still a serious inequity of access to green spaces for minority communities despite.

Sources and Materials


Wolch,Wolch, J., Wilson J.P. & Fehrenbach, J. 2005. Parks and parks funding in Los Angeles: An equity mapping analysis. Urban Geography. 26:4-35


Environmental Justice and Urban Programs, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, 2012.

'Human Impact Partners'

Parks and open space are not equally distributed.

HEALTHY PARKS, SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES: Green Access and Equity for Orange County

Media Links

Long form LA Weekly piece on green space.

Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan

Meta Information

ContributorKaty Hintzen, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015